soler batting mbdWhen the Chicago Cubs signed Ben Zobrist to be their primary second baseman in 2016, the move simultaneously precipitated a trade of Starlin Castro.

When the Cubs were heavy on free agent right fielder Jason Heyward, many wondered if the same situation was going to play out with incumbent right fielder, Jorge Soler. Perhaps Heyward would not move over to center field, instead sliding into his familiar right field, displacing Soler. Then the Cubs could move Soler to pick up a cost-controlled starting pitcher, or maybe even a quality young center fielder (or both, if you’re gonna get really dreamy).

Well, the Cubs have picked up Heyward – hooray! – so does that mean more is coming?

Well, perhaps eventually, but not necessarily, and not necessarily soon. We got into this a little earlier today, just before word of Heyward’s signing broke, but I wanted to dig in some more, now that he’s coming to the Cubs.

Some early reports and reactions on that front:

Note that Gordon Wittenmyer, who broke the Heyward decision, writes that the current plan isĀ not to deal Soler.

Keep in mind that, coming into the offseason, the prevailing wisdom was that the Cubs would trade one of Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, or Jorge Soler as part of an effort to upgrade the pitching staff. In essence, that already happened with the Castro-for-Adam-Warren trade. (And if you’re not sold on how good Warren can be, I highly recommend this deep dive from Michael.)

If Heyward is capable of playing, and willing to play, center field, then I do like that the Cubs are in a position not to have to do anything with respect to Soler. Further, even after Zobrist entered the fold, the Cubs don’t have to do anything with Baez. By hanging onto those guys, and Chris Coghlan, if the Cubs so choose, they have wonderful redundancies that cover in case of injury, create rotational and match-up options, and allow the Cubs to carry an eight-man bullpen with relative ease. That bullpen, with its many super utility pitchers, will in turn allow the Cubs to be more comfortable with their current rotation, even if no other starter is added.

If, however, the Cubs are set on moving Soler out, perhaps not wanting to see if his defense in right can improve (or if his bat can become so good that outweighs the defense by enough to make him a big plus overall), they could let Heyward play right field, and see what they can get done in center field, presumably going after a quality glove out there.

In the process, the Cubs could try and pick up one of those quality, controllable starters – though we know from the Shelby Miller trade how expensive that can be – by way of a trade. The Rays, as we’ve discussed, have interesting rotation, bullpen, and outfield options, and they’re hot on Baez. The Braves, I’d point out, have both Julio Teheran and Ender Inciarte, and are reported to love Soler.

There are additional moves that could make sense for the Cubs, and improve them further. But it’s nice to be in a position where there’s absolutely no urgency to do anything at all.

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